(Not So) Veiled Abuse

July 8th, 2010

Taking a break from my regular snark-a-thon to blog about something important. It’s taxing, but I CAN be serious especially when it’s about something as substantial as this.

A lot of us have been touched by abuse in one form or another. There are many forms, all of them horrendous and damaging, but I have to say something today about emotional abuse.  Someone I love is going through this right now and it’s heartbreaking to see the destruction that words can cause not only to her but to her children. I feel I have to say something because maybe, just maybe, the abusive jackass will read this and it will make an iota of sense.

Emotional abuse is no different than using your fists to get your point across. Actually, it IS different because it is cowardly and more sinister. To even be emotionally abusive to someone you have to KNOW them. Know their joys, theirs strengths and their weaknesses. Know their sadness, know them well enough to choose that one spot where you can stab in that verbal knife and hurt the most. Yes CHOOSE because at one point that person saw the light and joy in the person they are hurting. At one point there was something that drew them together. That made them radiate together. The abuser uses that beautiful part of being a human, of being alive, that basic human element of being vulnerable and establishing a connection with another human and twists it so far that it becomes a destructive tool.

Our culture writes off emotional abuse because you can’t see the destruction. A black eye is easy to see. The destruction of your character, the very core of who you are? Well, not so easy to see but just as lethal and I would go so far as to say, more destructive.  It takes a lifetime of experiences to form one’s self esteem, one’s belief in their worth and their place in this world yet only a small amount of time to destroy it.

People who emotionally abuse were obviously raised around this behavior in some form. But the difference between them and us is that they are unable to make the mature choice of breaking the pattern. Did your Dad verbally break your Mom down until she was a shell of the vibrant woman she was before? Do you remember how little and scared you felt when you heard this happen? Do you want to do this to your children? Do you want to break someone down so far that their luster is gone forever? That they can’t get up and stand on their own because they have no more belief left? Remember when you were little and felt like you couldn’t save your mama? You want to make your own kids feel this way?

Imagine a little kid asking their mom almost daily why they are crying. Imagine a little kid feeling like THEY did something wrong because their mom, who is usually so fun and attentive, is staring at the wall in a daze, so far away that this child can’t reach them and they are left feeling sad and confused. Imagine the guilt that these children feel! Guilt that will form a life-long pattern of destruction in their psyche and possibly rob them of the chance to feel deep joy and internal peace.

Even worse, imagine if this little child came home and said that one parent was saying horrible things about the other parent  (and newsflash: passive aggressive comments are just as bad). Any child shrink will tell you that this makes the child feel responsible. They aren’t old enough to logically understand what is happening, so they take it in and form their own self around the belief that they are responsible for everything bad around them and they aren’t worth much.

Abusers will justify WHY they have a right to be angry, WHY they have been victimized and are justified in reacting like this, WHY this isn’t their fault. And you know what? History is full of stories of dictators, murderers and the worst of humanity who all hid behind these pathetic excuses.  A psychopath is a psychopath (“amoral behavior without sympathy or remorse”). It doesn’t matter whether your place of false power is a city, a country or your family.  You are choosing to destroy someone. You are CHOOSING to not look inside yourself and change your destructive behavior.

Your parents ruined this part of your life. Don’t do this to your family too.

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